John Sherman was born in Lancaster, Ohio, on 10th May, 1823. The brother of William Sherman, he left school to work as an engineer on canal projects. He returned to his studies and eventually was admitted to the bar in 1844. Sherman worked as a lawyer in Mansfield, Ohio and Cleveland, Ohio.
A member of the Republican Party, Sherman was elected to the House of Representatives (4th March, 1855 to 21st March, 1861) and served as chairman of the Ways and Means Committee. In 1861 he was elected to the Senate as replacement for Salmon Chase. He remained in Congress for the next sixteen years until President Rutherhood Hayes appointed him secretary of the treasury (1877-81).
Sherman returned to the Senate (1881-97) and was responsible for the Sherman Anti-Trust Act in 1890. The legislation attempted to curb the growth of monopolies. The act declared illegal any business combination that sought to restrain trade or commerce. Penalties for violation of the act included a $5,000 fine or/and a year's imprisonment
President William McKinley appointed him secretary of state in 1897 but he resigned the following year because he opposed the administration's decision to go to war with Spain. John Sherman died in Washington on 22nd October, 1900.